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Idyllically laid within the ambit of New Orleans' famous French Quarter district, Jackson Square is steeped in a rich history associated with the epoch-making Louisiana Purchase. An arsenal of historic landmarks, including the three-steepled St. Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo and the Presbytere stand amid vast landscaped gardens, with the bronze statue of the heroic Andrew Jackson forming a compelling centerpiece. Although now buried under layers of history, the square harks back to a fascinating past, when it was originally known as the Place d'Armes. An erstwhile site for public executions, this square saw a dramatic shift at the turn of the twentieth century. At the height of the Roaring Twenties, this National Historic Landmark became widely known for its association with the arts, allowing artists to gather and participate in the exchange of ideas. Through the years, Jackson Square has been touched by fleeting, yet enduring associations with tarot-readers, jugglers, street artists, and paraders, echoing the very unbeatable ethos that New Orleans is known for today.
The center of all cultural activities, the French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. The city of New Orleans was built around the main square of what was then known as the Vieux Carré, after the city's founding in 1718. However, most of the area's buildings come from the early 19th Century, when the city was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Although originally settled by French Creoles, by the early 20th Century they were mostly gone from the French Quarter, and bohemian culture began to boom in the area. Architectural delights like Jackson Square and its Saint Louis Cathedral are highlights of the neighborhood. The French Quarter's single most famous landmark, Bourbon Street, is a nightlife mainstay, being the main drag of Mardi Gras celebrations. Replete with rich architectural history and cultural implications, the French Quarter truly encapsulates New Orleans' vibrant spirit.
Originally known as Rue Bourbon, New Orleans' infamous Bourbon Street runs the length of the city's French Quarter, although it is the eight-block stretch of "Upper Bourbon Street," lined with bars and clubs of every genre, that is known for its lively nightlife scene. Initially a sought after residential neighborhood, shifting borders and demographics saw Bourbon Street succumb to the same vices the city had come to be known for, becoming famous for its restaurants, nightclubs and other risque establishments. Today, this street is best known for its involvement in the Big Easy's greatest festival, Mardi Gras, and its love affair with live jazz and blues. Each night, revelers throng the street with drinks in hand, their smiling faces lit by the multi-colored glow of neon lights. By day, the avenue's quaint architectural heritage comes to the fore, with time-honored eateries doling out traditional po'boys, beignets and other quintessentially, local eats.
Louis Armstrong Park, made of grassy knolls and lagoons, is named after world-famous musician and native son, Louis Armstrong. His statue, by Elizabeth Cartlett, is near the brightly lit entrance on the outer boundary of the French Quarter. Ironically, Armstrong was not allowed to play in the now well-known clubs during his career. Other landmarks including Congo Square and the Morris F.X. Jeff Municipal Auditorium surround the park.
Mardi Gras World is where Mardi Gras is created. Here, you can catch the artists and builders of the world famous floats hard at work. There is a gift shop where you can buy Carnival memorabilia, so you can say you have seen Mardi Gras and have something to show for it. Mardi Gras World is a fun trip for children, as a chest full of costumes affords them the chance to dress in true Carnival style.
Whenever you are in New Orleans, for business or pleasure, a must stop is Magazine Street. This is the street that has it all no matter what your shopping needs are. Whatever you're looking for, be it fashion, vintage clothing, children's clothing, shoes, or accessories, Magazine Street is the place to be. When you start to work up an appetite, try seafood, French cuisine, farmer's markets, chocolates, or stop into one of the many bars for a pick-me-up.